First, I would like to say thank you to Rayne for the original post and to all of the men and women who have expressed their opinions so eloquently thereafter. There is a great deal to digest here, and I am sure I will reread everything several times. Although I have never posted before, I have found great comfort in the MS forums – it is helpful to see men’s perspectives and it is equally helpful to see that I am not alone in my situation (although all of our situations may be slightly different, many of the broader themes here remain the same).
I want to add my personal perspective.
I have been with my husband for over a decade. At the beginning of our relationship I revealed to him that I was molested as a child. He too is an abuse survivor, but he never told me this until 2 months ago. It was his deep, dark secret, and I was subsequently in the dark myself. Our relationship was beautiful – full of love and what I thought was trust. For me personally, the trust part was very important. It came as an utter shock to me when I found out (again, 2 months ago) that he had been acting out with men online and had been in an 8 month relationship with one particular man. There has been talk in this thread about a woman’s choice in her relationship, the choices they make when they agree to be in the relationship. While I understand this in part, I would like to emphasize that, for me, my choice to be in the relationship at that point was made with a blindfold on – I only had partial information. In addition, I too feel confusion over a man’s decisions to act out when those actions have the ability to hurt and traumatize (yes, I do feel traumatized) the ones they purportedly love. The candid perspectives of the men on this board are a window into this world that I thank you for – yet I confess that it is still tremendously difficult to digest. For me, I was abused but have not acted out. I feel this dichotomy makes it more difficult for me to understand. My husband and I are trying to work things out in couples/individual therapy. Here, I have been able to make an active choice. I make the choice to try. I make this choice from a place of love and caring. Yet, my husband is unsure of his sexual identity and in this I feel my choice is lessened. I cannot be a part of this choice, despite the fact that it will affect me greatly. It is hard to effectively illustrate my point, but what I am trying to say is that many of our choices, as partners of those who have been abused, are not black and white because the bleed into one another. For those of you who have suggested that we, the partners, create strong boundaries – I could not agree more. My boundaries are that I will work on this until he decides, or, until it gets to be too much for me. If he decides that he can live a heterosexual, monogamous lifestyle with me, than I will work to rebuild the trust, the love … but if he breaks that trust again, I will leave because I personally (again, personal choice, we are all different) cannot live through this again.
As a final note, I would just like to add how difficult it is for the partners of men (or women, for that matter) who have acted out -- this is why we struggle to understand, why we ask the questions we ask. If you have not experienced the other side of the coin, from my perspective it is heartbreaking. The pain and anxiety that this causes are tremendous.